Phillies 4, Nationals 2

Roy Halladay and the Phillies seem to have their groove

back.

Halladay outpitched Gio Gonzalez with seven solid innings and

John Mayberry Jr. homered to lead Philadelphia to a 4-2 victory

over the Washington Nationals on Saturday night.

”We’ve got a little step in our get-a-long,” manager Charlie

Manuel said after the Phillies’ second straight victory over the

NL-East leading Nationals.

Halladay (8-7) allowed two runs and seven hits, struck out six

and walked one. The right-hander, who missed 42 games with a

strained muscle, is 4-1 with a 2.75 ERA in his last five

starts.

”I didn’t have to force as much today,” Halladay said. ”From

fifth inning on, it’s probably the most consistent it’s been in a

while. I felt pretty good today. I felt like I wasn’t laboring as

much and that makes a difference.”

The two-time Cy Young Award winner improved to 12-2 in 17 career

starts against the Nationals franchise, and Philadelphia won for

the sixth time in the last eight games overall.

”It feels good to play well,” Halladay said. ”We’ve done that

at times this year. We want to get back to playing the way people

have come to expect of the Phillies.”

Steve Lombardozzi drove in both runs for Washington, which lost

its third straight.

”Our offense is struggling a little with (injured players) out,

but you’ve got to give credit to their pitching,” said Nationals

manager Davey Johnson, whose club played without Ian Desmond

(hamstring) and Michael Morse (hand).

After Antonio Bastardo struck out the side in the eighth,

Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth for his 29th save in 32

chances. The three Phillies pitchers combined for 11

strikeouts.

The five-time defending NL East champion Phillies are seven

games under .500.

”Obviously you want to play great baseball all year long,”

second baseman Chase Utley said. ”Right now we’re playing good

baseball, but there’s still room for improvement.”

Mayberry hit a leadoff drive in the sixth inning to give the

Phillies a 3-2 lead. It was just the eighth homer allowed this

season by Gonzalez, who had yielded one in his last six starts.

”It was good hitting, a huge hit for us,” Manuel said.

Mayberry’s sacrifice fly in the eighth scored Utley, who stole

second and third after being hit by a pitch.

Gonzalez (16-7), a former Phillies farmhand who was trying to

become the first 17-game winner in the majors, lasted six innings

and gave up five hits while striking out seven and walking two.

Mayberry’s homer was the only hit allowed by Gonzalez after the

second.

”I tried to be too careful in the first inning,” Gonzalez

said. ”I got more aggressive.”

The left-hander had baffled the Phillies in two previous starts

this season, going 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 13

innings. But the Phillies jumped on Gonzalez right away this

time.

”Gio’s tough,” Utley said. ”There are not a lot of lefties

that have his velocity. He’s definitely commanding the ball a lot

better than he has in the past and his numbers show that. You try

to get strikes in the strike zone and try not to miss them. We

scored some early runs, which is always nice for the starting

pitcher.”

Philadelphia grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first on RBI singles by

Utley and Mayberry. Gonzalez needed 31 pitches to get through the

opening frame.

”Gio had a little trouble early but then he settled down,”

Johnson said.

The Nationals tied it in the fifth inning on Lombardozzi’s

two-out, two-run single to center. Washington loaded the bases with

one out on three straight singles, but had Gonzalez batting. After

two failed bunt attempts, Gonzalez grounded sharply to Utley at

second. Instead of trying for the double play, Utley came home to

get the lead runner.

Lombardozzi then singled to center to score Danny Espinosa and

Kurt Suzuki, who just beat the throw by getting his hand on the

plate and under the tag of catcher Erik Kratz.

Morse did not play after leaving Friday night’s game with a

bruised right hand after he was hit by a Kyle Kendrick pitch in the

first inning. Desmond also missed his second straight game due to a

right hamstring strain.

NOTES: Phillies OF Domonic Brown was out of the starting lineup

due to right knee soreness. It was the first time Brown did not

start since being recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on July 31.

Brown hit for Halladay in the seventh inning and struck out. .

Philadelphia LHP Cliff Lee (2-7, 3.78 ERA) is scheduled to face RHP

Jordan Zimmermann (9-7, 2.54 ERA) in Sunday’s series finale.